A surge of summer-like weather that baked the state’s inland communities Saturday and drove people to beaches for relief was a prelude to a Sunday scorcher that could set record highs in Boston and Worcester.
The extreme weather comes as thousands are expected to gather for commencement ceremonies across the region, and officials warned people to be careful as temperatures Sunday could climb into the 90s.
“It’s one of the first hot days of the warm season,” said Torry Gaucher, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Norton. “People may underestimate their body’s ability to adapt to that heat.”
On Saturday, temperatures varied widely across the state — they climbed as high as the low 90s in the northwest part, while coastal areas were cooler, according to the National Weather Service. Boston was in the low 60s throughout most of the afternoon while the suburbs reported temperatures in the high 80s.
Worcester matched an 88-degree record for the date. That record had been set in 1975, according to Gaucher.
The Cape and Islands offered an oasis, with temperatures staying in the 70s, while lower temperatures along the rest of the coast also provided a cooler experience. That included Revere Beach, where an ocean breeze kept the heat at bay.
“The weather, for me, it’s perfect,” said Rey Rivera, a 21-year-old from Holyoke. “We thought it was going to be hotter, like blazing, but I don’t mind either way. The water is refreshing.”
The crowds on Revere Beach mixed with state troopers, who had increased patrols on foot and horseback after five people were arrested last weekend following several fights near the beach’s bandstand.
As of late Saturday night, troopers dispersed large crowds and arrested seven people, including four juveniles, State Police said
A parking ban went into effect at 6 p.m. on Revere Beach Boulevard.
On Carson Beach in South Boston, troopers and Boston police officers arrested five people, including two juveniles, as they worked to control a crowd of several thousand over the course of the evening, State Police said.
A reprieve was expected as overnight temperatures in Boston were expected to be in the 70s. But the heat will return Sunday, as thousands are expected to gather for commencements at universities, including Tufts, Brandeis, and Boston University.
Boston and Worcester are likely to break records for May 22 as temperatures climb into the 90s, according to Gaucher. Worcester’s record for the date is 90, set in 1911 and 1992; Boston’s record is 93 degrees, set in 1959, he said.
The weather service issued a weekend heat advisory early Saturday morning, warning people to stay out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids, and stay in air conditioning, if possible. It also advised people to keep outdoor activities limited to early-morning or evening hours.
In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat emergency and opened 15 Boston Centers for Youth & Families to serve as cooling centers for residents, according to a statement.
Wu urged residents to check on their neighbors, particularly older adults, and people with disabilities.
“As we head into summer, it is clear that earlier, more frequent extreme heat days from a changing climate are a risk to our health and communities,” Wu said in the statement.
The centers were open until 5 p.m. Saturday, and will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The use of masks in cooling centers is strongly recommended, the statement said. A list of the facilities is available at boston.gov/heat.
Fifty splash pad sprinklers will be open at parks and playgrounds in Boston, and some pools will be open. A list is available on the city’s website.
At Revere Beach, many people sprawled out on beach towels or tossed around a football. Only a brave few, mostly young children, dared step into the water.
By late afternoon, temperatures at the beach were hovering in the low 70s, to the dissatisfaction of at least one man, who said he had come expecting blazing heat.
“Where the hell is the 90-degree day they were warning us about?” he bellowed between bites of a slice of pizza.
In Boston’s Franklin Park early Saturday morning, visitors tried to squeeze in some time outdoors before the weather warmed up.
“It just gets too damn hot,” said Curtis Clark, who strode around the park’s Scarboro Pond as his grandson, RJ, did laps on his bike.
Nearby, a mother swung her daughter on a shade-covered swing set, while a group of men lay on a patch of concrete with a large pack of plastic water bottles. And a family, wearing sunglasses and cut off T-shirts, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers as they prepared for a birthday party.
On the shaded shore of Scarboro Pond, Dan V., 34, of Brighton, sat with a collection of fishing rods, waiting for a bite.
Fishing is his trick to beating the heat, he said, because the water keeps the air temperature cooler.
“We’re New Englanders, right? A little heat isn’t going to deter us,” he said.
Forecasters predict a cooling down is expected Monday, when temperatures are expected to be in the 70s.
Forecasters said the transition to cooler weather could begin as early as Sunday afternoon, with storms expected in northwest Massachusetts and potentially the Boston area, Gaucher said.
“We’ll get some relief from a cold front that’s going to come through [Sunday] afternoon and evening,” he said.
The rest of the week will be cooler as well.
Temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday are due to drop into the mid-60s in the city before rising into the mid-70s Thursday and Friday, according to the weather service.